BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
After a long silence since the shooting by Adam Lanza, that killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut, the National Rifle Association (NRA) finally broke its silence. In a report delivered by its Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre, the association came up with what could only be described as an isolated solution to gun violence in America. Those who expected the NRA to come up with a solution at the national level or one that at least, support what the majority of Americans say should be the solution, realized the NRA does not share such view, despite the killing of 20 innocent children and 6 adults.
As usual the NRA became more defensive and did not shy away from its rhetoric of more guns as the solution to ending gun violence in the nation. Rather than support the call for a ban on assault rifles and other forms of automatic machine guns that so far, have been linked to majority of the killings of the past six months, the NRA came up with its own solution which if properly understood are twofold. First, it called for armed guards to secure American schools and protect it from would be killers. Secondly, the NRA proposed a “Model School Shield Program” led by Asa Hutchison a former U.S. Attorney for the Fort Smith based Western District of Arkansas, to lead a team of security expert to protect American schools.
The Model School Shield Program, according to the NRA will help train school personnel on better ways to protect a school from intruders. Mr. Lapierre indicated the NRA would bear the cost of such training without seeking a dime from the government or any of its agencies. However, the program is open only to any school willing to participate and those unwilling can still consult the NRA for alternative ways to better secure their school. The proposed solution by the NRA is far from what the President called for earlier when he asked for a ban on assault rifles, military style automatic guns and closing loopholes that makes it easy for buyers to easily purchase all kinds of guns at gun shows without background checks.
Despite the outrage and unity of voice nationwide, calling for appropriate gun laws to prevent what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, from happening anywhere else in the nation, the NRA seems unmoved from its position of protecting the Second Amendment as absolute, even when American children are getting killed by madmen with guns they should not have. Mr. Lapierre saw no problem with having assault rifles and machine guns and rather than attack the gun culture, he blamed the media for changing peoples’ perception of the NRA and guns. He attributed video games to gun violence and found fault with the government’s failure to deploy armed guards to protect the nation’s schools. He claimed the government protects the airport, State offices and the President with armed guards but none for the nation’s schools.
It is clear Congress will not support the measures put forward by the NRA and majority of Americans, are unlikely to see the NRA’s solution as conscionable. Such a solution is isolated and will not address what the nation needs at the national level which is a Federal gun law with teeth that bans assault weapons, machine guns and one that would end loopholes that allows for illegal gun purchase and guns that would later end up in the hands of criminal that misuse them.
Many gun lovers have proposed that having teachers carry guns in the classroom would minimize the danger. The point is such an idea will not solve the problem. It would turn American schools into a war zone. Besides the militarization of schools that could be the result of arming teachers, another issue is how to address a situation where a teacher with undiscovered mental health problems, decides to open fire on students or on a co-worker for no apparent reason? The NRA solution of deploying armed guards to the nation’s schools will not solve the problem either. For example, how do you deal with a situation where a school guard armed with gun decides to turn his weapon on a student due to provocation or personal problems no one knew about? The fact is that a school, is a place for education and should never be turned to a military barrack.
As remote as these situations may look, the likelihood of such happening, is undisputable. After all, no one thought Adam Lanza who had no affiliation to Sandy Hook Elementary, would think about harming 20 innocent children and their 6 teachers to the point of death. The solution to America’s gun violence is clear and it is well written in what President Obama proposed this week which are banning assault rifles, unreasonable possession of machine guns and closing gun purchase loopholes.
Besides the above mentioned solutions, it is time to have a one-gun-rule in America. While it is true we all cherish our Second Amendment rights, it should not be seen as a right to acquire assault rifles, shot-guns and military style machine guns. Our gun freedom may have gone beyond what the framers envisaged. The second Amendment has been subject to abuse and it has been violated beyond the founding fathers’ understanding of self protection and the right to bear arms. Why have multiple guns when you only need one to protect yourself? The right thing to do is to introduce a one-gun-rule that would allow those interested to own just a pistol with not more than six rounds of ammunition for protection.
There should be a law requiring those purchasing guns, to do so only in the jurisdiction they live. The available loopholes made it easy for many to purchase cache of guns through interstate travels and visits to out of state gun shows where weapons are purchased without proper checks and no question asked. The lack of proper registry and tracking has made it possible for criminals to get hold of guns, which they later misuse.
There are too many guns in America both legal and illegal. Estimates reveal about 300 million guns in circulation, a stunning revelation that should call for immediate attention. The nation should invest in a national gun drive and illegal gun submission regime. It was successful in Australia and not impossible in America. There should be a call at both national and state level for those with multiple and illegal guns, to give up their collections without penalty or questions asked. By doing so, the government would remove illegal guns and prohibited ammunitions from the streets to save innocent lives and lower the crime rates.
It may be time for a renewal registration of all gun dealers in the nation. There are too many illegal guns out there. It is easy to purchase a gun in the streets for $20 or less. A gun can be acquired anywhere in America because illegal gun business continue to flourish with impunity. Sometimes, registered gun dealers collaborate with criminals to sell them military style weapons they should not have and in most cases, innocent people pay the price.
Mental health management and care needs government attention. James Holmes the attacker in Colorado and Adam Lanza who attacked in Newtown Connecticut, both suffered from mental health issues. The lack of proper diagnosis and early care may be recipe for disaster and unreasonable killings.
It may be necessary to increase the price of guns and the tax on the purchase of some kinds of guns that have no business in private homes. The government had done same by increasing the tax on tobacco, when it realized it is a major cause of lung cancer. The move has since helped reduce the rate at which people die from tobacco related cancer so, why not do same with guns? There should be a higher tax on those purchasing heavy artilleries except for those purchasing under the one-gun-rule for personal protection.
The administration should consider use of a first alert system, where parents and family members can report illegal gun possession and accumulation by a family member. The attacks in Colorado and Newtown could have been prevented had reasonable notice been relayed to the authority before the attacks.
Congress must put aside the political war and work for a reasonable gun law that includes the bans proposed this week by the President. The NRA is unlikely to back away from its push for more guns. The apologists say guns are part of American culture and with its 4 million backers, the NRA won’t seize from lobbying Congress to block any Bill on gun control. However, this is a great opportunity for Mr. Obama to make America safer. For the first time a President has the support of the majority of the people who have sounded the need for a gun restriction. This is a leverage Mr. Obama can’t afford to forgo and with the nation behind him after the killings at Sandy Hook, the NRA won’t win this time.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.